July 2013
UCDC Developments

Unlike many other schools and centers, summer is definitely not a slow-paced time at UCDC!


The ever popular water days have begun and children eagerly await their turn in the sprinkler, at the water tables and with other interesting activities on the playground.  Teachers are taking advantage of nice weather to take leisurely walks and when the heat gets to be too much, they are spending time in the gym. 


Keystone STARS recently completed four classroom observations for our STAR 4A designation visit.  Our assessor spent three to four hours in randomly selected classrooms and completed environmental rating scales in those rooms.  We will have the scores from her observations in about two to four weeks.  As a group, we will discuss her comments and scores in order to create an improvement plan.  Once the Pennsylvania Key receives our plan, they will review it and then determine our eligibility in terms of retaining our STAR 4A status.  Click here to learn more about Keystone STARS.


Our newly established Playground Committee has been working diligently to implement changes on the playground.  Cleaning and organizing tasks have been completed, and plans for a more infant-friendly space and renovated "dirt box" are underway, along with many other creative options for outdoor play.  We will keep you posted on additional changes.


Plans are underway for our August 9th Professional Development Day (remember we are closed that Friday).  We will complete a health and safety training along with a training from Shannon Wanless of the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh.  Shannon will talk about self-regulation in children and ways to support different levels of social and emotional development.  Teaching teams will also have time to spend together to plan and discuss current classroom needs.


Parent/Teacher Conferences have been occurring over the past few months and we hope you had time to schedule one with your child's teacher.  This is a great time to meet with teachers to discuss development and goals and review the detailed progress report that teachers complete on each child in their classroom. 


Finally, transitions are in full swing.  This is the time of year when many children will make a move to a new and different classroom.  Transitioning and change can be hard for children, families, and staff.  Although moving on or into another group and meeting new friends can be exciting, it can also be stressful and sad.  Children and families will be separating from friends, coping with breaks in the continuity of care and routines, adjusting to different routines, environments, and activities, and may feel a loss of personal control and emotional connections.  Children will respond to these changes differently with some making the move with little or no struggles (usually our older children).  Our youngest will sometimes have a little more trouble, as leaving their previous caregivers and a familiar environment can be hard.  When under stress, children may act out or withdraw or may be more emotional.  So in addition to working through transitional changes, you may also find that you are dealing with more behavioral concerns. 


Rest assured, all children will eventually settle in and establish new relationships and learn to love their new room.  The key to supporting children during this move is patience and understanding.  We definitely know that transitions are tough for families as well.  Families and children leaving infant rooms often have the most difficulty as their former caregivers were their first teachers that they formed with relationships with and spent a lot of time with.  It is important to recognize that transitions truly do take time.  Children need a lot of time to establish new relationships and understand how they fit into the new environment and the existing group. 


There are some things that you can do to make this process a little easier:

  • Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. If you are excited and confident, your child will be, too.
  • Prepare yourself. Take note of how your child reacts to separation. Make sure that when you meet with the new classroom teacher you ask a lot of questions and read the information that they share with you.
  • Start daily routines that will add continuity. Make sure your child is getting plenty of rest.  Their day will likely be busier and high emotions will make children a bit more tired (and cranky!).
  • Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day in the new room, for chatting and communicating together. Establish a new ritual that works for your child or the classroom.  Maybe they have a fish that they could feed or a window to wave out of.  Reading a book is always a nice activity and often new friends will join in.   Be sure to talk to classroom teachers about how things are going (but not directly in front of your child).
  •  Remember not to prolong the goodbye. If your child cries or clings, staying will only make it harder.  Crying during the first few days (or weeks) of saying goodbye might happen, but it will eventually get easier.
  • Always say goodbye to your child. If they get upset, you can say, "I know it's hard to say goodbye, but you'll see me right after snack."
  • Don't talk about your fears or concerns in front of your child.  Even the youngest children can pick up on adult fears and those fears will translate to them, and may increase their uncertainty about the change.
  • While preparing your child for change is important and will help them, talking about it too much or too far in advance can have the opposite effect.  Keep it light and focus on other things that are happening in your child's life as well.

As teachers and early childhood professionals we recognize that moving into a new room means that your child is growing up.  As a parent, I know that this evokes a whole new set of emotions but new classrooms bring new challenges, successes, skills and a whole new set of adults who will love, teach, and cherish you child.



Mary Beth


"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let thing flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."      ~Lao Tzu


Weekend Events
For those of you that will be leaving UCDC over the summer due to your child starting Kindergarten in the Fall, we will miss you all deeply! We have had some requests for families to continue receiving our UCDC Weekend Events after they leave the Center. If you are interested, please email Jamie Wincovitch at jmw170@pitt.edu to remain on our mailing list for this weekly email of child friendly events in the Pittsburgh area.

Play: It's How Children Learn at the UCDC
Recently, UCDC was featured in the University Times. The article, Play: It's How Children Learn at the UCDC, was published in June. The reporter interviewed the Director, Education Coordinator, and a Head Preschool Teacher in order to gain understanding of the philosophy of UCDC. We urge you to take some time to read this lovely piece as a parent of a child of UCDC - this is definitely something to be proud of!
UCDC Reads by Infant Two
Moo Moo Brown Cow by Jakki Wood

Moo Moo Brown Cow, written by Jakki Wood, and Illustrated by Rog Bonner is a favorite book in Infant 2!!! The story explores numbers, colors, animals and animal sounds. You will hear language such as, "Moo Moo brown cow, have you any calves?  Yes kitty, yes kitty one spotted calf." And "Baa Baa black sheep have you any lambs? Yes kitty, yes kitty two  woolly lambs. "


The children love this book so much that they know what animal and what sound comes next and will begin to repeat the sound of that animal before the page is even turned. This book also can easily be incorporated in a toddler and preschool classroom.  

Sunscreen...How Do I Choose?
By Tiffany Robinson, Infant Two Head Teacher


It's summer time!!! And you know what that means...playgrounds, swimming pools, beaches, and riding bikes. It also means it's going to be hot!! It is time to begin applying sunscreen to yourself and to your children. But do they really do what they say they do? Does waterproof mean I only apply it once for the entire day of sweating and swimming? What do I look for in a sunscreen? I'm glad you asked. Here are some answers to your questions that hopefully will help in finding the best sunscreen for your family.


While choosing the best sunscreen is important, perhaps even more crucial is using it correctly. So before you plop down on the lawn chair -- or take the kids to the beach -- here are some sunscreen facts.


Which is the best sunscreen for you? Clearly, you'll want a sunscreen with broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA. Ingredients with broad-spectrum protection include benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone.


SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection-The SPF factor rates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. If you'd normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning. Keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit: contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn't twice as strong as SPF 15. While SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters out 97%, only a slight improvement.


UVA protection- There is no rating to tell you how good a sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays. So when it comes to UVA protection, you need to pay attention to the ingredients. Look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. Any of those should do the trick.


Water and sweat resistance- If you're going to be exercising or in the water, it's worth getting a sunscreen resistant to water and sweat. But understand what this really means. The FDA defines water resistant sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the water. Very water resistant means it holds after 80 minutes of swimming. These sunscreens are in no way water-proof, so you'll need to reapply them regularly if you're taking a dip.


Kid-friendly sunscreen- The sensitive skin of babies and children is easily irritated by chemicals in adult sunscreens, so avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. Children's sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike chemical ingredients, these protect babies' skin without being absorbed. For kids 6 months or older, look for a sunscreen designed for children with an SPF of 15 or higher. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under 6 months be kept out of the sun altogether.


Hopefully this information will help in your search of the best sunscreen for your family. And possibly eliminate those painful sunburns and peeling! HAPPY SUMMER!!!!


Resource: WebMD

Child Jumping off Tree Stump
Song Lyrics by Infant Four
Shake My Sillies Out


Infant Four loves to dance and sing all day long! Here is one of their favorites as of late.


Shake My Sillies Out

by Raffi


I've gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
And wiggle my waggles away!

I've gotta clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
And wiggle my waggles away!

I've gotta jump, jump, jump my jiggles out,
Jump, jump, jump my jiggles out,
Jump, jump, jump my jiggles out,
And wiggle my waggles away!

I've gotta yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out,
Yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out,
Yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out,
And wiggle my waggles away!

I've gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out,
And wiggle my waggles away,

And wiggle my waggles away!


In Infant Four, they also like to...


Dance my doodles out...

Stomp my angries out...

UCDC Philosophy Explained 
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Parent Question: How do I know my child is ready for Kindergarten?


I'm going to restate this question to, "Is Kindergarten ready for my child?" Due to changing expectations of Kindergarten, there has been a major shift in how this grade level is viewed. When Kindergarten was first created in the mid 1800's, its purpose was to create a social experience for children in order to help them transition from home to school. Now, preschool serves this purpose and the expectations of Kindergarten have changed.


Luckily, in the Pittsburgh area, we are blessed with the ability to choose between a large number of schools (public, charter, magnet, and private) that fit YOUR child as opposed to the other way around (but this is another reason to start looking early - age three is a good time to get serious about this search). So, when looking at the Kindergarten that you are considering for your son or daughter, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Is my child old enough to enter Kindergarten in my school of choice? It's important to first know the cut-off date of the school that you are selecting. Some schools require that your child be five years of age by September 1st of that enrolling school year, some are September 30th, and still others are as late as December 31st.
  2. Is my child ready to enter this social environment that has a main focus on education? Is your child able to follow structured daily routines? Listen and pay attention for short periods of time? Get along and cooperate with others? Follow simple rules?
  3. Does the Kindergarten that I choose reflect my child's curious nature? Is there long time periods for explorations of topics of interest?
  4. Will my child be successful at the educational expectations of the Kindergarten that I chose? Some Kindergartens may expect children to be able to write their name, hold a pencil with a non-fisted grip, use scissors with control, know their letters, etc.
  5. Is my child ready for this style of education? Does she enjoy listening to stories? Can she attend to a teacher directed activity for approximately five minutes? Can she take care of her basic needs? Can she express her needs and wants verbally? Can she cooperate with others? Is she able to separate from her parent(s) without getting too upset?

There are so many things to consider when selecting a school for your child and there is no perfect school, but rather a good fit. When looking at different schools for your child, remember to ask yourself this very important question: "Is this school good for my child?" Every child has very different learning needs and there are just as many schools available that reflect this natural diversity. 


Good luck in your search and know that the teachers at UCDC are a great resource for helping you to decide what may work best for your child.


Check out this link for more information about Kindergarten readiness.



Spotlight on Staff, Preschool Two

This month, we interviewed the teachers of Preschool Two. They are a relatively new teaching team that have some amazing qualities. Take a moment to read up on these women.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending their child to UCDC?

  • "Do it! UCDC is an amazing family focused center. Just get on the wait list soon." - Jenna
  • "I would tell them it is a great, loving place for their child where they will be well cared for. The facilities and staff are excellent." - Mary
  • "Put your name on the waitlist! :) But also that is a wonderful center where children are loved, encouraged to express themselves (and their creativity) and supported in their development." - Bess

What was the last movie you went to see at the movie theater?

  • "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Jenna
  • "My husband and I usually rent Redbox, but the last movie I saw at the theater was The Dark Knight Rises."  - Mary
  • "This is 40." - Bess

How would a good friend describe you?

  • "Genuine" - Jenna
  • "Loyal, happy, and friendly" - Mary
  • "Reliable, loving, and loyal." - Bess

Where did you work when you were in college?

  • "Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery" - Jenna
  • "Horne's and Gimbels" - Mary
  • "Gymnastics coach and ballet instructor at a local gym." - Bess

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?

  • "Friendly, carefree, and compassionate" - Jenna
  • "Loving, happy, and friendly" - Mary
  • "Hard-working, slightly forgetful, happy." - Bess

What did you watch on TV last night?

  • "Arrested Development" - Jenna
  • "Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune" - Mary
  • "The Pens-Bruins game :(" - Bess

What is your favorite tradition from your childhood?

  • "Eating outdoors as much as possible" - Jenna
  • "Celebrating at Brentwood Fourth of July in my hometown. Parade, picnic, and fire with my family every year." - Mary
  • "I didn't have a very traditional childhood and we didn't have many family traditions. However, my husband and I have made Sunday a special day in our house. We usually spend the day gardening, cooking together, and renting a movie. Hopefully when we have children, Sunday family time will be part of their favorite memories!" - Bess

Where is your favorite place to eat?

  • "Double Wide Grill" - Jenna
  • "Eat N Park" - Mary
  • "Arlecchino Ristorante for special occasions but I am a pretty big fan of cooking at home!" - Bess

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or deceased, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

  • "Laura Ingalls" - Jenna
  • "President Obama" - Mary
  • "I don't think I would want to trade places with anyone but I have always wanted to meet or attend a lecture given by Elie Wiesel.  His book, Night, is one of the most powerful and moving I have ever read." - Bess

What is your favorite time of the day?

  • "Sunset" - Jenna
  • "5:00 before dinner" - Mary
  • "Morning, especially in the summer. I like spending time outside before it is hot." - Bess